Dare to Dream: TMSA HS Science Olympiad

Dare to Dream: TMSA HS Science Olympiad
Dare to Dream: TMSA HS Science Olympiad

"Dare to Dream"

Dreams come true if you believe in them and work hard with honesty and dedication. TMSA HSSO journey started in August 2017. We had just joined TMSA and found out the Science Olympiad club is not very active in High School. Being a "Scioly Family" for 8 years in New York, we thought we would bring the magic of Scioly to TMSA. We connected with the School Administration and got their support to start the HSSO Club. We dared to dream. I still remember the first interest meeting at school. Only 8 or 9 kids showed up. We started with them.

We started to meet twice a week, Fridays and Saturdays. We faced many challenges, yet still overcame them one by one. By November, by word of mouth and publicity in the school, we got 20 kids. I saw the excitement in kids to work hard, learn and give their best. We went for our first Regionals tournament in February 2018. The kids performed well. It was a new experience for them. We won some, we lost some. We were placed 9th in the Region among 30 schools. It was a great achievement for the team. I was so proud of them. I could not sleep that night. I dreamt with open eyes, I saw potential in my team and believed that we can go to Nationals in 2020 to be held at NC State. The name of my dream is "TMSA@NCSU2020". I penned my thoughts, my plan and sent it to Mr.T, our Dean. He replied in the morning saying he loves it and we have his support.
We started the 2018 season with lessons learned and improvised our strategy. I talked to the team about going to Nationals, that will be held NC State in 2020, NCSU2020. They laughed and said, Mrs. Shankar - It is impossible. I told them this word is not in my dictionary. I said - l know the destination, I know the path, and asked them, "Do you believe in me to embark on this journey with me?" I am not promising success but I am promising memories, lots of learning opportunities. Some believed some stayed quiet, We started the journey and began to meet every Saturday from 9 to 3 pm. Kids stronger with study events started to work on them, Kids stronger in build events started to build their models. We held each other's hand and kept working hard.

For the first time, I took the team for SO Invitationals Competition at Duke. It was a very tough competition. We did not get any medal, missed a few by 2 or 3 places. We as a team realized our mistakes. A good sportsman improvises his/her game after the first defeat. We did the same. We had 21 days between the Invitational and the Regional competition. The team went all in. We started to put in more hours, we corrected our mistakes in the study and build events. We went through some heartbreaking debacle too. Our best plane got stuck to the gym string up high, we lost the best plane two days before the competition. And we also lost our best parachute, to the gym pipe at 24 ft high, there was no way we could retrieve either of them. Kids felt very bad. They picked up their next best models and started to trim the flight to make it work. On Thursday night around 9:15 pm we left the gym with a heavy heart. I told them it is all good, we have a back up for each event but within I was feeling bad too.

On 23rd Feb, we went for Regional Competition at Buies Creek. I said only one thing to my team - We can do it. The day went well. It was raining, we all got wet running from one building to another. We corrected our mistakes and did the impound correctly. Kids gave their best. Kids doing study events said their events went ok.
When it was time to fly planes, the entire team was nervous. Aditya and Luis's first plane gave them 1 minute 27 seconds. I could see that they were not happy. They tried again by adjusting the plane and their location on the gym floor to release it. The plane flew for a minute and 47 seconds. We were all jumping on the stands. The judges congratulated the kids and told them they broke flight time records for Regionals at Buies Creek. Kids got compliments for their innovation and design in Mission Possible and Protein Modeling.

Award ceremony started around 4 pm. We won 7 first place medals, 3-second place medals, and 5 third place medals. We could not believe as a team. When they started to announce the team placements, they started from 8th place. We all didn't want to hear our School's name for 8th, 7th, 6th and 5th place as only top 4 teams will advance to States. Science Olympiad competition. We would give a sigh of relief when our name was not announced for last 4 placements. When the 4th place was announced, I was hoping to hear my school's name. It didn't happen. Did not hear for 3rd place, and neither for 2nd place. There was a 5-second pause. I think as a team we did not breathe for those 5 seconds. And then we heard "Triangle Math and Science Academy" is placed 1st in the tournament. We jumped with joy, We could not believe ourselves. The head coach was invited to collect the trophy. I am proud to share that I danced my way from stands to the middle of the arena to accept the trophy. I kissed the trophy as if I have won gold at the Olympics. It's no less for me and my team. The team ran towards me and hugged me. We went crazy. One kid yelled in my ears, Mrs. Shankar we are going to Nationals, NCSU2020. Tears started to flow, I could not control myself. I started on this journey alone with my son, people joined us slowly and steadily and now I see that HSSO is a movement in TMSA. I could not sleep that night. I again dared to dream. TMSA@Nationals@NCSU2020.

Puja Shankar | TMSA HSSO Parent Coach